SCBA Confidence For Fireground Survival


Photo Courtesy Tim Sendelbach

Self-contained breathing apparatus (S.C.B.A.) in years past was considered a tool used only by those firefighters of less ability, a tool of shame if you will. Today, the modern fireground reflects one of many lessons learned from our predecessors, S.C.B.A. usage as a norm, rather than that of exception.

Today's firefighters are faced with a greater risk of inhalation hazards due to the many byproducts of combustion, some of which were never before imagined. Unfortunately, many lives continue to be lost despite the advancements in technology as it pertains to self-contained breathing apparatus and the strictly written national standards and departmental operating procedures/guidelines. In the year 2000 alone, five (5) firefighters lost their lives due to inhalation related injuries and several others died from asphyxiation following structural collapses.

In response to the continuously high rate of firefighter injuries and/or fatalities linked to respiratory related incidents, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adopted the highly debated 29 CFR 1910.134 regulation on respiratory protection in April of 1998. To many, this standard is recognized solely for it's infamous 2 in / 2 out ruling. Unfortunately, few have properly identified what this regulation brings forth as it pertains to respiratory protection and S.C.B.A. training for the modern firefighter.

This article and the associated drill sessions have been designed to identify and set forth a training program that supports compliance with this regulation and it's required S.C.B.A. usage and competency training.

*This article/program is in no way offered as a full-fledged respiratory protection program, rather a suggested training program to meet specific competency requirements set forth in OSHA CFR 1910.134 and the other applicable NFPA standards.


Photo Courtesy Tim Sendelbach

The use of self-contained breathing apparatus is considered a basic tool of the firefighting trade. Unfortunately, with this general assumption comes a complacent mindset and lack luster efforts in annual training and proficiency testing. The unending respiratory hazards faced by the modern firefighter bring forth a need for continuous evaluations in the use and proficiency of self-contained breathing apparatus. As trainers, we must design and develop drills that challenge and motivate those experienced members while maintaining a high degree of realism.

This article will provide a detailed training simulation that reinforces personal proficiency while emphasizing standardized emergency techniques to be initiated when encountering a sudden hazardous event on the fireground.